We all remember watching the iconic video of the statue of Saddam Hussein crash down in Firdos Square in Baghdad. However, many are less aware of a monumental event that occurred right around the same time that many historians consider to be one of the worst mass destruction of historic objects in the past century. Between April 10 and 12, 2003 the Iraq National museum went through a period of mass destruction and looting, with estimated losses totaling
around 15,000 objects. Many of the pieces destroyed or stolen were thousands of years old, dating back to the Mesopotamians. Some Iraqis unable to fight the armed looters, took precious items back to their homes for safe keeping until the museum was secured, unfortunately the majority of those in the museum during the looting were simply in search of destruction or riches. After taking much criticism for not helping to protect the museum during their occupation of Baghdad, the United States made hefty donations to help recover and revive the lost and destroyed items. In 2009, the museum reopened for the first time, however, many of the exhibits remained closed and only special guests were allowed into the museum. This looting is likely to be remembered as one of the most detrimental strikes to ancient art in world history and has also been referred to as both a “desecration of civilization” and “a rape of mesopotamia”. Although about half of the lost or destroyed items have been recovered to repaired, it is likely that many of the ancient objects have been lost forever.
The museum has an awesome virtual exhibit that you can access here: http://www.virtualmuseumiraq.cnr.it/homeENG.htm
Wright, Jonathan. “The Rape of Mesopotamia: Behind The Looting of the Iraq Museum.”Geographical 1 June 2009. Print.
George, Donny. “The Looting of the Iraq National Museum.” CAA News May 2008: 8-13. Web. 6 Sept. 2011.